Mexico: Spread of vigilantes sparks debate

2013-02-27 13:48
Civilians wearing ski masks or bandanas and carrying small arms, man a checkpoint in Teconoapa, in the Mexican state of Guerrero. (AP)

Civilians wearing ski masks or bandanas and carrying small arms, man a checkpoint in Teconoapa, in the Mexican state of Guerrero. (AP)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

kalahari.com

Mexico City - The rapid spread of vigilante-style community "self-defence" groups is drawing debate in Mexico after the latest group popped up with suspiciously sophisticated weapons, printed T-shirts and clothing that doesn't reflect the usual mix of participants.

The group appeared this week in Tepalcatepec, in the western state of Michoacan, in an area dominated by warring drug cartels. Tepalcatepec is the latest in a recent wave of towns where residents have set up patrols and checkpoints to fight crimes like kidnapping and extortion.

But the previous self-defence groups were made up mainly of farmers in muddy boots or sandals, armed with a mix of shotguns, single-shot rifles, old pistols and machetes.

Video footage from the town shows that the new group of vigilantes is much better armed and dressed, with assault rifles and matching, professionally-printed T-shirts that read "Community Police" on one side and "For a Free Tepalcatepec" on the other.

Many Mexicans are concerned that the "self-defence" patrols could start acting like paramilitary groups or be used by the drug gangs themselves.

"There is a very thin line between these self-defence organisations and paramilitary groups," Raul Plascencia, the head of the country's Human Rights Commission, said earlier this month.

Resident-funded


One of the leaders of the new vigilante group, which has already set up highway checkpoints and started questioning passing motorists, said the group was made up of common citizens exercising their constitutional rights.

"We want to escape the yoke of organised crime," said the leader, who wore a blue bandanna over his face and would not give his name. "They were charging us protection payments, extortion."

He denied that the powerful cartels that operate in the area were behind the group, saying it was being funded and supported by residents.

The vigilante movement also appears to be spreading in the Pacific coast state of Guerrero, where it began in early January. The governmental rights commission said on Tuesday it had sent a team of investigators to an area of Guerrero state where the movement started, and said residents expressed anger over the failure of police to combat crime.

And a new group in Coyuca, a town just west of the coastal resort of Acapulco, announced this week that they were forming their own armed self-defence group. Most previous groups had been established in isolated rural areas.

Improvised jailed

Assistant Interior Secretary Eduardo Sanchez acknowledged the dual problems - that of restoring law enforcement to lawless areas and reigning in the vigilante groups - during a news conference on Tuesday.

Sanchez said the government was seeking to negotiate with the vigilante groups.

"Our task is to establish the rule of law in both senses, by guaranteeing public safety ... and channelling these self-defence groups back into appropriate channels where citizen participation can help and complement government sources," Sanchez said.

One of the biggest concerns for rights officials has been the practice of self-defence groups of detaining people they find suspicious, and holding them, sometimes for weeks at a time, in improvised jails.

The leader of the Tepalcatepec group said self-defence patrols there had already detained "several" suspects.

- SAPA
Read more on:    mexico  |  mexico drug war
NEXT ON NEWS24X
SHARE:

Read News24’s Comments Policy

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
0 comments
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining
 

Inside News24

 
/News
 

Get fit on a budget

It’s time to throw the “I can’t afford to exercise” excuse out the window.

 
 

Where were you when you last felt alive?

The basics of BASE jumping
Tips for paddling your first Dusi
Climbing the world’s largest stone arch
Awesome extreme sports people

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Magical Massinga

Spend 5 nights at the gorgeous Massinga Beach Lodge in Mozambique and only pay for 4 from R13 220 per person sharing. Includes return flights, accommodation, transfers and romantic turndown. Book now!

Kalahari.com - shop online today

Seen something you like in our catalogue?

Find the perfect gift and save up to R5000 – As seen on the catalogue. Hurry and shop now!

Save up to R1000 on Hisense smartphones!

View the large range of Hisense smartphones. Buy today and save up to R1000!

Toys 4 for the price of 3

Buy 4 toys and get the cheapest FREE! Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Mind blowing prices – As seen on TV

Get mind blowing prices on 1000’s of products! Shop now.

Deal of the week!

Save R1200 on the Samsung 48” smart full HD LED television now only R8799. Buy now!

OLX Free Classifieds [change area]

Samsung Galaxy s4

Mobile, Cell Phones in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 24

Best bargain in big bay

Real Estate, Houses - Apartments for Sale in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

VW Golf 6, 1.6 Trendline (Excellent condition)

Vehicles, Cars in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

Horoscopes
Aquarius
Aquarius

You may be in the mood to philosophize and socialize and expand your mind on various discussions and group activities. You could...read more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.








Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.